“Every night, an unseen buzz of activity takes place all around the globe,” I read on the blurb of this formidable work. This reminds me of a talk given 14 years ago in Southern California by a biologist who informed the listeners about the dangers of artificial light during nighttime. I specifically remember being stunned that lots of birds regularly fly into brightly lit skyscrapers. Needless to say that when thinking about it this hardly comes as a surprise; the problem however is that we do not seem to think about it or, if we do, do not care much about dead birds falling to the ground because of artificial light.
In his foreword, Ruskin Hartley of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) – an organisation dedicated to treating the nighttime as a precious but threatened resource – relates how his family, when moving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Tucson, Arizona, learned a powerful lesson. “Contrary to common belief, more light does not necessarily enhance visibility or the sense of safety.” Moreover: “Light pollution is destroying natural darkness with severe consequences: It is linked to a global insect decline, the death of millions of migrating birds, increased carbon emissions and increased disease in humans.”